President Trump wanted his Attorney General Bill Barr to hold a press conference following the release of the White House’s version of the call of Ukraine, and make a blanket declaration that Trump did not break the law on the infamous call, The Washington Post reported.
Barr ultimately declined to do so, but the Justice Department did release a written statement saying no campaign finance laws had been broken and “no further action was warranted.” According to people familiar with the matter who spoke to the Post, Trump still wishes Barr had held the exonerating news conference. In recent weeks he’s raised the issue with associates in private a few times.
Trump reportedly made the request, which traveled from White House officials to the Justice Department. The request was made around the same time the rough transcript of the Trump-Volodymyr Zelensky call was released.
Trump, for his part, denied the request was ever made.
The degenerate Washington Post MADE UP the story about me asking Bill Barr to hold a news conference. Never happened, and there were no sources!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 7, 2019
While the Justice Department did release a statement that appeared to clear Trump in part, it’s taken some other notable steps in recent weeks to distance the department from Trump’s burgeoning scandal.
While Trump directs Zelensky several times in the phone call to get in touch with Barr about his request for investigations, the Justice Department was quick to issue a statement following the transcript release asserting that Trump and Barr never discussed the political investigations. Additionally, after acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney admitted there was a quid pro quo with the withheld military aid during a press conference, the Justice Department was quick to say it didn’t support Mulvaney’s position.
It’s unclear why Barr demurred or if this was part of seemingly ongoing effort to create space between Trump and the DOJ. But after that disastrous press conference when Barr offered up his assessment of special counsel Robert Mueller’s reporter — when he was widely accused of acting as Trump’s personal lawyer — Barr may have decided it’s best to remain a little camera shy.